Transformers has been somewhat down on its luck in recent times, given the absolute shin-kicking at the feet of professional film-murderer Michael Bay and to some extent Shia LaBeouf or the Ross and Rachel on-again, off-again nature of the video games, it had begun to seem like the spark had gone from the once-beloved institution.
High Moon Studios was responsible for the last two Transformers titles: War for Cybertron, a delightful breath of fresh air followed by a Dark of the Moon tie-in game vomited up by Activision, hashed together in what seemed like a fortnight and thrown out into the wilderness for the wolves and jackals to feast upon. Expectations for Fall of Cybertron were tepid at best, but High Moon Studios have gone above and beyond, delivering an even better experience than War for Cybertron, previously the highest rated Transformers title to date, Fall of Cybertron steals its crown then kicks it in the peculiars.
Fall of Cybertron looks absolutely stunning, it would’ve been all too easy to make somewhere like Cybertron appear as little more than dead husk of nothing, but even in its dying breaths it somehow feels more alive than ever; thus planet of metal feels more organic than most depictions of earth in games. An impressive variety of metallic textures give both the environments and Transformers a huge amount of variation and depth, some of the shinier finishes even really glisten and shimmer in the midday sun.
Even more astounding is the level of detail in virtually everything, Transformers themselves have very distinct silhouettes, with delicate moving parts and mechanical gizmos whose intricacy really shine through when changing weapons or undergoing transformation. Levels are even more impressive, showcasing this level of detail on a far grander scale, with distinct periods of Cybertronian architecture, the Sea of Rust level rife with what can only be described as Transformers Gothic. The most impressive environments and worlds in games are universally those which depict both the present state, but also how it came to be and Fall of Cybertron achieves this expertly.
Controlling a Transformer feels just perfect, each with enough weight and swagger to give the convey the bulky brute force of a Transformer, but still possesses a finesse which doesn’t make them feel too cumbersome or unwieldy. Gunplay and overall is a treat, especially when it comes to some of the more iconic Autobots and Decepticons. The essence of Megatron has never been more accurately captured than now, his ability is but to fly 20ft above the ground and deal 1.5x damage, but absolutely nothing makes you feel more supremely badass than when controlling this hover-bastard; one of the best gaming moments of the year for definite.
Each character’s special ability and transformation is unique, tailored to them perfectly suited to the character themselves, Grimlock getting angry enough to turn into a giant fire-breathing T-Rex, like every Monday morning ever, perhaps lacking enough opportunities to transform but the shooting elements are so solid enough to overlook that, special abilities will be used far more than a full-scale transformation.
Fall of Cybertron would probably benefit from the introduction of a full-on sprint rather than the rather fleeting ‘dash’, and Transforming being bound to L3 means many transformations will be entirely unintentional. The difficulty may also be a little bit on the hard side, even on easy some portions weren’t exactly a breeze, especially for a game which is almost exclusively about open shooting rather than utilising cover.
That said, the story is solid, with well-written dialogue that caters to adults and younguns alike, the interplay between Cliffjumper and Jazz is genuinely laugh-out-loud funny in places, even if Nolan North can’t but help inappropriately bring back memories of Nathan Drake.
The final battle frenetically swaps between playing as Autobots and Decepticons with all the fervor and intensity you could wish for, with an equally satisfying quirk at the end of the game. Fall of Cybertron’s strength is in accurately demonstrating the diversity and sheer scale of both Cybertron and the Transformers universe, each location carries a huge sense of proportion and some rather daunting moments. Combat is solid and the large number of characters give it great diversity and never becomes dull. The special abilities are well utilised and rarely feel pointless, even if transforming often seems like the less favourable option, only Grimlock has you eager to change, largely because his ‘ability’ is his transformation, much more powerful than his regular state but with a time limit. Fall of Cybertron is certainly worth a purchase and even if the campaign is on the short side, the multiplayer will more than tide you over until only the most tantalising autumn releases finally get here.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
Excellent metallic textures throughout, astonishing attention to detail, solid story and dialogue and a robot dinosaur who breathes fire.
A touch on the hard side, the occasional irritating niggle, utterly pointless stealth sections and a fairly short campaign.